It remains unclear whether the University of Namibia (Unam) will manage to keep its financial books clean in terms of student debt following its tuition fee increase across the board for 2017.
This year alone, the university found itself in a serious financial predicament as a result of escalating student debt, which increased significantly due to non-payment of registration fees upfront.
Unam explained that student debt is a consequence of fee protests that occurred at the beginning of this year that led to smaller negotiated deposits for many students, which in turn meant larger outstanding fees from the beginning of the year.
But by August, a collective student debt for 2016 had reduced from a historic massive N$255 million to N$145.39 million.
The huge student debt followed after Unam, together with the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), in conjunction with the higher education ministry, agreed to allow students to register without having to pay fees upfront this year after thousands of students demonstrated against what they termed high tuition fees.
But to avoid further financial woes the Unam council announced its tuition and hostel deposit fees increment for 2017 for local students, and SADC and non-SADC students, well in advance.
One such announcement is that although students were this year allowed to register without paying deposit fees upfront following student protests, the status quo will change as students are now required to settle N$5 000 as deposit on tuition fees before they register next year.
The required N$5 000 tuition deposit fee on or before registration is relatively high compared to the N$4 450 which many students failed to settle this year that led to ‘fees must fall’ fever that hit campuses across Namibia.
Unam director for communication and marketing, Edwin Tjiramba, said all students, be they foreign or local, are required to pay N$1 650 as registration fee next year, which was N$1 550 in 2016.
This means the required N$1 650 is payable by all non-hostel Namibian students, in addition to the N$5 000 deposit for tuition fees.
SADC students are required to pay N$10 000 deposit for tuition fees plus registration fee, while non-SADC students must fork out N$20 000 for the same.
This year, SADC students paid a relatively low N$4 450 (same as locals) while non-SADC students forked out
N$10 450 as deposit for tuition fees.
“International students (SADC and non-SADC) at the university will be required to pay hundred percent of the registration and hostel fees, and 50 percent on tuition fees – this is the norm in the region and elsewhere. Therefore, at registration, a SADC non-hostel student is required to pay a total minimum deposit of
N$14 150; and a non-SADC student
N$24 150,” Tjiramba noted.
Foreign students are required to pay
N$2 500 as an international student levy.
Tjiramba said the university’s tuition fees for the 2017 academic year would be increased by 5 percent, 2.5 percent lower than the increase in 2016, as approved at a special university council meeting held on November 29.
Council also approved an N$100 increase on registration fees compared to the fees that were payable this year, making registration fees for 2017 N$1 650.
In addition, the university has replaced the breakage fee with a wear and tear fee.
According to Tjramba, students in the university residences will now be required to pay a non-refundable wear and tear fee of N$1 000 per annum, adding that council will announce the increment in ad hoc fees in due course.
Students are encouraged to sort out their financial enquiries prior to registration.
“A payment plan for Namibian students, on a remaining balance (non-bursary or loan holders), is accessible by signing a debit order or settlement agreement at registration to pay off the outstanding balance by or on June 30, 2017. To avoid deregistration, all students should make sure their fees are paid up by June 30, 2017,” he added.